It is exhilarating to notice the growing need for creating a community in the midst of our large population of Iranian residing here in British Columbia. In Vancouver similar to every other place, Iranians work hard to find a meaning for their life. For this reason, there are now several groups who engage individuals to get together and to learn more about themselves. These groups invite guest speakers who talk about various topics related to anything from women, parenting, marriage, history, philosophy, physical health to literature and poetry.
In the past couple of years there are an increasing number of grass root community groups here in our city. In the event sections of our Farsi-language newspapers and magazines, we can read about several weekly meetings or community groups who are all inviting people to participate and to take part of what is going on.
In a way we can see t hat there are several forums for healthy interactions that are just developing because of a greater need. Our fellow Iranian men and women get together in weekly or biweekly and in some cases monthly get-together s and programs to discuss topics important to the community.
Those who are attending these groups express a sense of gratitude for having the opportunity to break the cycle of isolation and alienation. These simultaneous groups are a forum for the Iranian residents of Greater Vancouver to build trust in one another. On the front of trust building we still have to work hard in order to meet, interact, and work together beyond the concept of ideology, politic, or religion.
Among all groups, I have had the chance of observing the great effort of three specific groups, all started developed due to a call for a community and an idea for communication.
It is to emphasize that individuals attending these groups are from all walks of life, various social status, and all kind of ethnical backgrounds. The significant characteristics of these groups are the idea of raising awareness, increasing tolerance, and creating space for practicing democracy.
The experience of group work is new to us Iranian. Now realizing the depth of our Diaspora, we realize that we can socialize on the basis of our human relations.
These are the three groups:
• Puzzle of Life: A weekly group of women only who get together to share, learn, and to find friends. This group is run with the hard work of one woman who believes in the notion of empowerment, education, and socialization. This group has a philosophy that compares life to a puzzle that has to be solved and in the least only understood.
• Rooyesh Cultural Society runs as a non for profit society, has biweekly meetings and has a primarily goal: Practicing democracy and growing as individuals.
• Iranian Women Cultural Society: A monthly group of woman who started 3-4 years ago as a in house gathering of women who wanted to break the cycle of remoteness. Now this group has developed to a non for profit society and has a membership number close to hundred. This group have now for three years in a row organizes celebrations to honour the International Women Day (Mars 8th) as a way to honour women in general.
I guess it is just to hope for more groups and more sense of community, somewhere we all feel pride of belonging to.
February 22, 2009